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Hands-on learning

Jason Starr

SILVERTHORNE – Thursday was the first time the sport of team handball was played in Summit County. The handful of people who were out there running, dribbling, passing and shooting in the Silverthorne Recreation Center gym hope it won’t be the last.

Team handball – an Olympic sport most popular in Europe – combines elements of basketball, soccer and water polo to create a fast-paced hybrid.

Rob Hoffman, an intern with the Silverthorne Rec Center, taught the sport in a two-day introductory class that ended with about eight players scrimmaging in the gym Thursday night.

“It’s a good workout,” said Ben Way, a gymnastics coach in the county. “It’s a good mix of the ball sports.”

The sport is becoming popular on college campuses, and Hoffman, a senior physical education major at Fort Hays State in Kansas, introduced it as the culmination of his internship.

“I figured I might as well try something different instead of a sport that everyone’s playing already,” said Hoffman, who returns to Kansas later this month. “Maybe if people get interested, they could make it a drop-in sport later on.”

With the lower-than-expected turnout, that’s not likely. But the rec center did purchase an official handball, which resembles a small soccer ball but dribbles like a basketball, so the possibility is there.

“We’ve got the ball now. Anyone who wants to use it can use it,” said Silverthorne recreation coordinator Joanne Breigenzer, who participated in the class. “We have the rules and what it takes to play the game. There’s no reason why it can’t grow.”

The rules in a nutshell: There are six players a side and one goalie. Players dribble and pass the ball upcourt. A player can take no more than three steps without dribbling and can hold the ball for no more than three seconds. Scoring is done much like in water polo. Only the goalie can be in the semicircular goalie’s area. Defenders try to steal passes or intercept dribbles to gain possession. Players can’t touch the ball with anything below the knee. The sport can be played in a gym, but a regulation court is slightly bigger than a basketball court.

“It’s a pretty good workout,” Hoffman said. “You’re constantly moving around.”

Participants in the one-hour session Thursday practiced passing and dribbling before moving into a half-court game. Even after the lesson officially ended, most continued playing.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at jstarr@summitdaily.com.


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